Fulton (WSYR-TV) -- The days of gathering with friends at Lake Neatahwanta spark fond memories in Fulton during the 1950s.
“The neighbors all got together and made a swimming area down there and we had picnics down there on Sundays,” Fanny Knapp recalls.
A younger generation is likely to remember signs of trouble, restricted access and warnings of blue-green algae.
“I have young children and every time we go by there they say, 'we want to go swimming' and I have to tell them we can't swim in that lake," said Fulton resident Douglas Chapman. "I have to tell them because the lake is sick."
Fulton's Mayor Ronald Woodward says an average of 25 tons of runoff each day has created thick layers of sediment in the lake.
"Over the years, the lake has filled in and has become much shallower," explained Woodward. "In summer time, the temperature gets a lot hotter in it, which promotes more blue-green algae. Down toward the bottom, it reduces oxygen for aquatic life to grow in."
A committee formed to help restore the lake has a vision to build sediment ponds at nearby creeks, reducing the runoff. Then, they hope to begin the slow process of dredging this summer.
“There is a tremendous amount of springs in the lake itself. Once you get them open with the nice water flowing and moving and moving the silt, it will help to clean the lake up,” said Granby Town Supervisor, Ed Williamson.
First the committee needs money -- $5,000 to test the water with help from a local college. Overall, an estimated $2.5-Million would be invested in dredging. A representative from State Senator Patty Ritchie's office said $250,000 had been set aside to address concerns involving the lake and water chestnuts. She was not sure how much of that money would be committed to the lake.
Committee members say a not-for-profit status would help them collect donations. Residents at the committee meeting signed petitions urging lawmakers to invest in the project. Raffles were also sold to raise money in a community hit hard with job loss and hoping for something better.
“It took hundreds of years for that lake to fill in. It didn't happen in two or three years. So, it’s going be in good shape for a long, long time when we move some of that out of there,” said Woodward.
“If it doesn't get dredged and the springs don't get opened, it’s just going to eventually be like a big mud puddle,” Fanny Knapp said